Client Press Release
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (May 16, 2016):- Children under grassroots projects in Ethiopia can become as great as any of the famous African players if they get proper training and platform, Martin Keown, a former Arsenal star said.
Martin Keown, a key centre-back (defender) in “The Invincibles” team of Arsenal, made this remark in Addis Ababa on Thursday at the end of his Ethiopia visit on 11 and 12 May, 2016 under Arsenal's partnership with Dashen Breweries.
Martin spent his first day in Gondar town where he handed over 600,000 Birr Dashen support to Gondar town Administration for the construction of low-cost housing project on behalf of Dashen Breweries. This latest housing project is in addition to several low-cost houses Dashen Breweries has built in Gondar and its environs previously thanks to its principle of giving back generously to community.
After handing over the cheque to Gondar town Mayor, Deputy CEO of Dashen Breweries, Mekibib Alemu announced that Dashen has spent over 300 million Birr in societal development projects since its establishment 16 years ago.
Martin also briefly interacted with children from two grassroots football projects in Gondar and handed over a donation from Dashen of footballs and bibs to the children.
Later on, Martin laid the corner stone for the renovation of a football field in the town to upgrade it to semi-standard football pitch. Under this project, fully financed by Dashen Breweries, the existing dusty and poor quality field in the centre of Gondar will be covered with grass. Other amenities to make the pitch suitable to children and youth to practice football regularly and comfortably are also included in the project. It will be fenced, and have gardener and a guard to look after the grass, among other things.
He concluded his first day in Gondar with a visit to the Simien Mountains National Park.
“The Simien Mountains were quite spectacular. The change of weather was so high with the altitude; it was very hot, then cold and then it was raining. But the views were quite stunning. We saw the sun setting and it filtered through the mountains. We don’t see anything quite like that at home really,” Martin told reporters.
On the morning of May 12, Martin visited the Dashen Brewery Gondar plant to meet some of the workers and experience how Dashen Beer is produced.
In the afternoon, he flew back to Addis where he spent a few hours with children from a grassroots football project at the Ethiopian Sports Academy Gym. During these few hours, Martin demonstrated some training and playing techniques to both the children and their coaches. He also gave footballs and bibs to support 11 grassroots projects in Addis Ababa courtesy of Dashen Breweries.
At a press conference at end of his two days, Martin stated that given the opportunity and proper training, the Ethiopian players could be as good as the other African players.
“Looking at the youngsters today there is definitely the quality there. It’s just giving them the platform to do well. It’s about working with the coaches to give them clear messages to pass on to the young players," Martin told journalists at the Ethiopian Sports Academy after coaching session with children under various grassroots projects. "As soon as we started working with them you could see they were improving very quickly, they are very athletic, have good touch on the ball; so it’s about creating the opportunities for them. They are exactly the same as the other African players we all know; they are very good and physically strong," he added.
Martin also expressed hope that the Dashen-Arsenal initiative to bring Arsenal Legends like himself to Ethiopia would inspire the children to work hard and improve.
"Hopefully the children here will be inspired by this visit," he said.
Also at the same press conference, Devlin Hainsworth, CEO of Dashen Breweries said that, with initiatives like Dashen’s, the future of Ethiopia’s football is promising.
“... we know the future of Ethiopia is very bright. Through this partnership, grassroots projects and more visits from Arsenal legends and coaches, we would like to think we could play our small part in the development of football in Ethiopia,” the CEO stated.
Both in Addis and Gondar, Martin also handed over framed Arsenal shirts signed by all Arsenal players as prizes to 12 winners of a week-long radio competition Dashen conducted in connection to his visit.
Martin is the second Arsenal Legend to visit Ethiopia in six months. In December 2015, Ray Parlour visited Ethiopia to encourage grassroots football by meeting children and youth under various football projects in Addis Ababa.
Arsenal has become the first Premier League side to secure a regional partnership in Ethiopia after announcing Dashen Breweries S.C. as its Official Beer Partner in 2015. The three-year-partnership will help Arsenal get closer to its fans in Ethiopia and will focus on supporting Dashen Breweries community based initiatives with coaches from the club taking part in grassroots football development projects in Ethiopia.
Under this arrangement Arsenal Soccer School coaches have given two training sessions to over 3o Ethiopian coaches in November 2015 and February 2016 under the Dashen-Arsenal Grassroots Football Coaching Programme.
Note to Editors
About Martin Keown
Martin Keown originally spent one season with Arsenal’s first-team in the mid-1980s before joining Aston Villa, then Everton. Martin became the first man since the Second World War to re-join Arsenal when signed for the club a second time in 1993. His pace and tough tackling saw him become a stalwart in Arsenal's defence alongside Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon. He helped the Club win three league titles, three FA Cups and a European Cup Winners Cup. Keown made his final appearance in May 2004 as a key member of the ‘Invincibles’ team. Martin also had an impressive international career for England, winning 43 cups including being selected for four major international tournaments (two European Championships and two World Cups).
Arsenal appearances: 449
England Caps: 43
Martin is now a highly regarded pundit and regularly features on Match of the Day and Football Focus for the BBC TV and Radio Five Live. He also writes a popular column for the Daily Mail and is an ambassador for the Arsenal Foundation.
Read more about Martin at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/gunners-greatest-players-20.-martin-keown